In an interview with the Financial Times, Time Warner Inc. CEO Jeff Bewkes lightly warned other media companies like Disney and Fox to not challenge the merger because the partnership between AT&T and Time Warner will lead to new products and services that will benefit customers across the entire ecosystem.
As the report points out, none of Time Warner's primary competitors have specifically bashed the proposed deal, but many have called for careful scrutiny on the part of regulators.
Bewkes' comments come as he and AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson continue their tour, attempting to sell shareholders, regulators and consumers on the benefits of the deal.
AT&T used the WSJ.D Live event to unveil the $35 price point for its upcoming DirecTV Now, as well as discuss the innovations the company is pursuing to help keep that price point down.
Stephenson and Bewkes were both on hand to discuss the new service as well as AT&T’s recently announced bid to acquire Time Warner for $85 billion. Stephenson took the time to talk up DirecTV Now’s pricing and channel package, which he said will be a “game-changer.”
“This is 100-plus premium channels. This isn’t the junk that nobody wants,” said Stephenson.
Of course, all that content comes at a price and Stephenson was quick to acknowledge that those content costs will continue to rise. But he sounded confident that Time Warner joining AT&T will serve as the jumping off point for the type of innovation needed to quell rising costs for consumers.
“Time Warner is where we’re going to try to touch these third rails that the industry will not and has not touched. It’s where we’re going to experiment and test how to bring a la carte pricing to the ecosystem,” said Stephenson.
He also said AT&T and Time Warner will work on developing new ad support models in order to help maintain the $35 price.
At the same conference, Bewkes said the AT&T-Time Warner merger will help to create a third competitor to Google and Facebook in the battle for digital advertising dollars. According to the Financial Times, Bewkes said that the combined company will help drive innovation and competition in the space, two things that Google and Facebook love.